I have successfully (I think) finished my midterms for this quarter! It was a stressful few weeks, but nothing like learning about the world and crying with your friends at the cafe. My birthday also passed and now I’m officially out of my teen years (so sad).
The midterm grind began week 8 as professors began announcing the testing schedules and basic outlines for their midterms (p.s. study guides aren’t really a thing here!). Before I get into the midterm grind, of course, first we had to celebrate my birthday. After our big splurge at Times Square on the weekend, we had a cozy dinner at a traditional styled Korean restaurant in the middle of…Hongdae. Say what, we go to Hongdae and instead of hitting the clubs, we go to a traditional Korean restaurant? It was amazing there, the banchan, the atmosphere, honestly it was a great way to spend my birthday.
After dinner, we went to a small cafe and took up the entire balcony (mind you, we were very courteous with noise) and I think some foreigners were eyeing our spot because when we left they instantly stood up HAHA. We went back to the dorms around 11PM after shopping around Hongdae-i got a hella cute jumper at Bershka- and I thought it was the end of the day. BUT, my friends had a different idea and surprised me with a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake with SIX different flavors, a world map because I love traveling, and a kiddie (kinda) chopstick because my chopstick holding skills are kind of whack. It was super sweet and oh my gosh I am so touched.
Okay, now back to midterms. We spent the weekends of Week 8 and 9 in cafes around Hongdae and Sinchon studying and studying. We mostly spent our time at a well hidden cafe in Hongdae called 홍대 36.5°c 여름. The cafe is super quite and cozy, perfect for studying AND it has three really cute and friendly cats. One of them feel asleep in my lap as I was typing and I couldn’t move for an hour, and another slept the whole day away on my friends’ backpacks and jackets.
I don’t think I have every studied as much as I did for the Yonsei midterms. In retrospect, I felt that I over studied, but it’s better than not studying enough. Besides, what’s wrong with being familiar with more knowledge and information? I was unsure of the level and expectations the professors had so I just did my best preparing for them. I think also, the midterms depend on the classes you take because if I had taken on an Underwood class, I would have probably died…maybe. I often worry too much, but the relief you find when you get the test because you know the answers is the greatest happiness ever. My tip is to stay on top of things, and even if you’re missing out on all the fun- trust me you won’t. My friends and I had plenty of free time and fun even while studying and taking our midterms. Breaks in between are good- you’ll feel better in the end.
For all my classes we are really delving into the ‘this is what the government doesn’t tell you’ sector and it has been extremely eye opening. Basically, everything is a lie. We joke about it, but at the same time, it’s kind of saddening. I’ve been learning about the other side of Korea as a colony under Japan (extremely sensitive topic) and I’ve learned some stuff about modernization and the governance of the then-colony that I definitely would have never heard from my parents or the people around me. It was extremely interesting to see the pockets of modern developments in the country like the advent of the department stores and modernism before everything went downhill when war began in the 1930s. I’ve also learned a lot about the presidents of Korea and the different methods of media control that they used to control the populace and the press, which is quite interesting especially in this modern day and age where Korea has some of the most advanced internet and connectivity in the world-and yet information is still heavily filtered. Some of the films I’ve been watching in film class also have been reflecting upon Korean society. All of these things, I think, I would not have been able to learn or experience in such an intimate manner if I didn’t take the chance to go to Yonsei.
Since it was my birthday week and I was hella stressed, I went out to the Lotte Department Store in Myungdong for some shopping. I got some cheese tarts and got an extra one for ‘service.’ Being the extra super duper great and nice friend I am, I brought the stuff home and shared it with everyone.
Friday after midterms we had a Culture Night in the SK lobby area of our dorms. There were lots of free food including pizza, kimbap, chicken, tater tots (omg), and popcorn. Most importantly, everyone got a bag of free fruits. The event was super fun and there was a little traditional music concert there. I also lost really badly to my friend in arm-wrestling and now I really need to start working out. We also tried kicking the hack sack and I was also the worst one of them all. Man, sports and physical activities are a no-no.
Saturday, my friends and I headed over to Times Square in Yeongdongpo again-I swear we will stop shopping one day. I encountered my Korean teacher at the bus stop and had a fail Korean conversation with her about going to Times Square. We headed to Hongdae first to grab brunch at The Ugly Pot, and got to eat the fluffiest French toast ever. Then we got onto the bus again for Times Square and I fell asleep for most of the ride, with the last five minutes spent staring outside the window wondering where we were. After shopping for five hours (bless Emart and Wonderplace) and using the Etude House Play 101 sticks to draw all over our hands, we finally headed back home. When we were going back to the dorms, we heard a whisper of music and didn’t think much of it until our friend whose dorm faces the direction of the Yonsei outdoor theatre told us that Seventeen was performing…and then GFriend. Wow, we are so studious we deleted all the school emails regarding this concert HAHA.
Sunday, my friends and I decided to go to the Olympic Park (on Line 5 if anyone is wondering) for a fall photoshoot because as Californians with no seasons, we have to be extra. When we were leaving the area, there was a large gathering of fangirls, and remembering the many times we had missed celebrities before, I told everyone,’Let’s go before we disappoint ourselves again.’ I should’ve said,’Let’s wait,’ because lo and behold, one of my friends who was back in the area started snapping me about VIXX right in front of her. She proceeded to fight the fangirls to get a poster for me HAHA.
Half of us went to the indie Mint Concert and the other half traversed through the rainy and cold-as-hell forest with all the statues from all the different countries who participated in the 1988 Olympics. The statues were at times super cool, and at times…super scary. There was one that said that the black was like human suffering and the red was pain…we learned this after we took a bunch of funky photos with it. To warm ourselves up from the pouring rain, we got some delicious kalguksoo at a restaurant in the park and headed home.
Time is passing so fast here and I feel like we haven’t seen even half of the city or experienced everything. Hopefully we will continue to have lots of opportunities to explore around!